On Monday morning when word swept throughout the WNBA circles of the trade between the New York Liberty and the Tulsa Shock involving Plenette Pierson, many started placing the onus - and blame - on Shock head coach Nolan Richardson. Many in the twitter- and blogo- sphere said that Richardson had a vendetta against the former Detroit Shock players. Many others questioned Richardson's basketball knowledge and coaching ability after trading away his 'best' player.
Late Wednesday night (according to the time stamp on her blog - "Simply Stated: I'm Misunderstood") Pierson decided to explain what happened to facilitate her trade:
As someone who saw from the sidelines and the locker room, Pierson's dread and unhappines was very evident and Richardson's frustration could also been seen on his face and in his actions at times. And this schism between player and coach was more than alluded to in my thoughts on the trade.
Well lets take it back for a moment, Tulsa training camp was the hardest preseason workout that I've ever been thru in my career. I mean at one point in 5 and a half days we had 11 practices. Talk about being prepared! 40 Minutes of Hell is no joke, Im sad that I didn't get the opportunity to fully understand the system and enjoy wrecking havoc on other teams. While trying to figure out Coach Richardson's system, we had a disagreement that was hard for both parties to recover from. Both sides tried to reconcile our differences but ultimately it was my decision to make a move and start over new somewhere. I felt as if I wasn't able to contribute to the success of the team and that I was holding them back. Everyone knows that when you are unhappy with circumstances that are presented to you, it can make something you love to do something that you dread doing. That was the point that I was at and I expressed that to Coach Richardson and he made the trade.
Now if only the steadfast fans of Pierson and haters of Richardson could just see this for what it is - a player who disagreed vehemently with the new regime in which she was placed and a coach who could not manage to see eye to eye with her or reconcile their differences.
These things happen all the time in other professional leagues and trades are facilitated due to conflicts between players and coaches both on and off the court. Why no one seems to think that this could have been the case in Tulsa (which apparently it was indeed) is beyond me. Pierson is no saint and Richardson is no villain, and the same thing could be said in the reverse. It's time to accept the stark truth about the trade for what it was, not for what people want it to have been about.
When both the Shock and the Liberty lace up their sneakers tonight with a new look on the court, perhaps some will stop criticizing Richardson (or at least to the nth degree) and look at the team with fresh eyes and even a new-found respect.
Naw. Who am I kidding? Those whispers - and sometimes yells - about Richardson's favoritism and senility will still reach some folk's ears. But at the very least, the story has been told to some degree in the words Pierson, somewhat refuting the claims of crazy fans. From my personal experience, a lady that doesn't mince words has set the record straight.
Swish Appeal trade coverage: